States pushing excessive claims against the U.S. because of its non-party status, accession would help U.S. counter these
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Notwithstanding the fact that the navigational freedoms and transit rights we currently enjoy are embodied in customary international law, as a party to the Convention, the United States would, however, be in a stronger leadership position to assert its rights to use the oceans for navigation and overflight. For example, in making excessive claims, some coastal states contend that the navigational and overflight rights contained in the Convention are available only to those states that also accept the responsibilities set forth in the Convention by becoming parties to it. By becoming a party to the Convention we can deprive those states of this argument. This is not to suggest that countries’ attempts to restrict navigation will cease once the United States becomes a party to the Law of the Sea Convention. Coastal states make excessive claims for a variety of reasons— because they believe such claims to be in their national interest; because they feed domestics politics; and, because they believe they can enforce those claims or that other nations will, for lack of resources and capability, acquiesce in those claims. The Administration believes, however, that with the United States as a party, fewer states are likely to view such claims as sustainable. As a party, our diplomatic and operational challenges to excessive claims will carry greater weight.
The U.S. is currently tracking dozens of excessive claims by states, some of which are from states seeking to take advantage of perceived U.S. weakness due to its non-party status to UNCLOS. Regardless, the U.S. would be in a better position to contest these claims (and dissuade further claims) as a party to UNCLOS.